“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

C.S. Lewis

The second pathway of Soul Archaeology is through Spiritual Development. This pathway is a journey of discovering divine love.

What is Spiritual Development?

Spiritual development has a long history and many varied pathways, ranging from religious traditions to meditative practices to body movement (like ecstatic dance and tai chi) to somatic energetics involved with kundalini, chakras, meridians, emotional healing, and more.

People seek spiritual development for many reasons.

Some have a spiritual experience in childhood that takes them on a lifetime exploration. Others seek relief from pain and follow the promises of “bliss” by either transcending the body and “self” through meditation, or by finding freedom through the body’s sensual pleasures and aliveness, or both! For whatever purpose they begin, once people start to explore spirituality across more than one tradition or path, they often enter a journey beyond what they imagined or can explain.

Spiritual development is an infinite journey of discovering the human-created sense of self in society, sensing more and more of reality that exists beyond human-created languages and words, expanding capacities for awareness, emotional experiences, and somatic sensations.

Although people report feeling more freedom, power, and interconnectedness through developing dimensions of their spiritual self, deepening depth into the soul level is a journey of humility, a willingness to see and feel the truth of one’s whole being and its relationship to source (God).

Qualities of a Higher Self

Clinical psychologist Richard Schwartz created a list of the capacities he noticed show up time and time again in many people as they go through therapy and an integration process he calls IFS (internal family systems), including voice dialogue practices and healing trauma. He calls these qualities of the Self, with capital S. His list of eight Cs are calmness, clarity, compassion, curiosity, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness, and five Ps are presence, patience, perspective, persistence, and playfulness.

It is no coincidence that the capacities Schwartz finds in his clinical experience captures what many people refer to as an “ideal human”, best self, or a higher Self. We each have these innate capacities inside of us already, developed to different degrees.

Many people find that spiritual and human psychological development go hand-in-hand, moving us toward ever-increasing capacities for moral and loving ways of relating to others and self and world.

Spiritual Development and Science

Typically spirituality and science are positioned as polarities in contrast, as if they exist in opposition to the other.

However science is a systematic method used by humans to study the nature of their experience and reality in the natural world. Science is enacted by humans observing their perceived reality and testing their hypotheses about what is certain under different conditions. To test their hypotheses, humans use methods of measurements and experimentations that they design.

Therefore, human experience serves as the source of all observations a human makes about the nature of our planet and universe and self. Humans design the measurement systems, the experiments, write stories about what they observe using human-created languages like English and Spanish.

A human cannot separate itself from its perceiving organs. In this way, science cannot separate from humans. Science is a word humans use to describe a method of studying the world they live in. Science cannot be separate from human perceptual and social biases, as well as limited by human languages to communicate to each other about experiential realities of the universe.

So some spiritual gurus may claim to be able to experience an absolute objective reality, but if that person is still living within their physical body, their human languaging and speaking skills to tell you about their experiences are not separate from their individualized unique perceptive organs of the body, mind and soul. Ken Wilber describes this limitation of human perception of their experience and how meaning is created by humans.

People may indeed be experiencing new qualities of their soul or subtle energy body and new dimensions in the universe, all of which feel divine (beyond human) when relatively compared to the average human’s physical body on earth and the condition it is in.

They may feel also like they are accessing the ultimate source of all humanity, may imply they have reached the godhead, yet may be accessing only a very small portion of what is yet to be experienced by humans as they progress in their spiritual development. It only seems to be “all” of it…in comparison to what was felt in the moment before.

Currently I am designing research to explore these kinds of hypotheses.

Summary of Spiritual Development Research so far…

Scientific studies into spirituality is relatively new to the field of research in organizations, business, management and leadership, yet growing substantially over the last 20 years.

Some of the primary components identified in prior research and by practitioners includes:

  • Spiritual development unfolds through expanding awareness and emotional capacities.
  • Capacity for mindfulness as non-judgmental present moment awareness.
  • Capacities to feel any and all emotion (versus avoid or get away from it through numbing, suppression, etc).
  • Capacities to directly experience and express “higher” moral qualities often described as acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, honesty, fairness, courage, trust and faith.
  • Shifts in identity occur over years (from narrative self, to awareness itself, to no-self or nondual awareness, to whole being, to soul, to divine love source, etc).
  • Ever-increasing sensitivities, including the physical body (soma) sensations, plus the subtle energy spirit body and its additional sensing capacities, plus the soul as the unique source of the body that has additional capacities most humans are not aware that can access or develop.

“My soul is from elsewhere…”

— Rumi

What is the soul?

The word soul seems to make some people uncomfortable…both religious and spiritual people. I wonder why?

Soul refers to the unique essence of each human being, the source of the unique physical body that lives on, even after the physical body dies on earth.

The soul is the part of us that directly connects to its source (creator, over-soul, God). For example, Christian traditions and other spiritual communities suggest that the Holy Spirit is the conduit through which an individual human being’s soul connects to God directly to receive divine love.

The soul has more capacities than the physical body, and each person is free to choose when/if they want to become aware of more than the physical material world, and if they want to expand their sensing capacities for more layers and dimensions over time. Each soul is free to choose its own pace of development and transformation….

“The soul has been given its own ears to hear things that the mind does not understand.”